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Technology knows no bounds in playing the role of God. For the first time in history, doctors in the U.K. have announced the birth of the first babies conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) using the DNA of three different people. The media is celebrating this as historic progress, but there are real, ethical concerns surrounding the procedure that very few are discussing.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) confirmed that at least one (and possibly up to four) genetically-modified children have been born to three parents in England following an experimental procedure known as mitochondrial donation treatment (MDT). The experiment was approved on the basis of preventing severe inherited mitochondrial illness, or the passing on of genetic disorders, and it involves extracting the DNA from the eggs of two different mothers and the sperm of one father to create a human embryo without mitochondrial defects. The resulting baby has most of her DNA from the mother and father and about 37 genes from the donor.
Researchers have expressed concerns about abnormal mitochondria multiplying during the procedure, creating disease in the child. Obviously, this is what happens when people intervene in the natural process and mess with reproductive cells in a petri dish. Children suffer.
Despite this being the “big risk” researchers are warning about, there is a much more deadly and serious consequence that they are failing to mention. Anyone familiar with IVF knows that, unless the procedure is done ethically, there is always more than one fertilized embryo produced. Often, the embryos that are not implanted into the mother are destroyed or frozen. To no one’s surprise, this is exactly what happened with the MDT. The procedure created two embryos, destroyed them, and used parts of them to create the third baby. The Anscombe Bioethics Centre sounded the alarm on this after the births of these babies were confirmed, writing,
“It is misleading to call this ‘mitochondrial donation,’ as if mitochondria are being ‘donated’ like organs. Indeed, [two human embryos] are functionally destroyed by the removal of their pronuclei, and parts of both used to create a third embryonic human…This is the destruction of two embryonic human individuals to create a third individual.”
Dr. David Albert Jones, the director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and bioethics professor at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, also warned of the risks and harms involved with MDT, explaining:
“This is a new and unnecessary technique that does not add to the safety of IVF involving an egg donor, but adds further risks. As with all IVF involving egg or sperm donors, this fractures parenthood and it is essential that the child is at least given identifying information about his or her egg donor parent. It is a fundamental human right to know about our biological origins.”
At minimum, this is eugenics. It treats children as commodities and justifies murdering them according to the whims of “science.” But even more than that, as Jones pointed out, children are entitled to one mother and one father. Not three, not a donor parent, not a surrogate — a mother and a father who will protect them and provide for them. These babies never asked to be conceived, and the selfish motives of adults rob them of having two biological parents. Scientists will force them into the world and destroy them without blinking an eye if it puts money in their pockets and fulfills the dreams of selfish parents to have designer babies.
A moral society would instead direct their research towards finding ways to make IVF ethical. Perhaps, by investigating how to ensure fertilization and implantation of only one embryo at a time. Even then, scientists would be playing the role of God and satisfying anyone’s desire to have a baby. But if scientists can dodge genetic disorders via IVF, what else will they try to do? And at the expense of how many children? Will they try to manipulate DNA to make babies stronger, taller, or more intelligent? What are the long-term implications of tampering with DNA?
Currently, this procedure is illegal in the United States, as it is rightly considered to be “human subject research.” But, given the results in the U.K., will that change in the coming future?
Life begins at conception. Science proves this. And yet, scientists will pair an egg with a sperm to bring life into the world and destroy it as if it was worth nothing more than a science experiment. How far have we gone as a culture where we have such little regard for human life?
Scripture tells us that life is given by God. It is an abomination that scientists, researchers, and consenting parents would participate in such an unnatural and wicked procedure. Genesis 9:6 tells us how seriously God is about the taking of life. It also serves as a warning to the wicked men who perpetuate these human experiments: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”
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